Turkish Foreign Minister statements on relations with Syrian regime provoke massive protests

EDLEB, Syria — After news circulated of Turkey’s intention to restart diplomatic relations with the Syrian regime and work towards normalization between the two countries, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu confirmed that he had held talks with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad. He said the two discussed ways of Turkish support for reconciliation between the opposition and the regime.

Çavuşoğlu added that the talks were held at the Conference of Non-Aligned Countries in Belgrade, saying that, “We have to find a way in which the Syrian regime and the opposition agree.”

He indicated that Russian President Vladimir Putin offered Turkish President Erdoğan to meet his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, and that Erdoğan preferred to communicate through their intelligence services.

Çavuşoğlu’s statements sparked popular anger in Turkish-controlled areas in Syria. Demonstrators across Turkish-controlled opposition territory burned Turkish flags and chanted anti-Ankara slogans.

Protests were reported in Edleb (Idlib), Cafrin (Afrin), Azaz, Al-Bab, Tel Abyad, and Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn).

Activists in Edleb called for demonstrations on Friday in all regions of northern Syria, condemning the Turkish statements.